Human Interest

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Remembering Edgar Allan Poe

January 22, 2008 11:00 AM
by findingDulcinea Staff
Every year a mysterious visitor pays homage to Edgar Allan Poe, the doyen of gothic American verse. On Jan. 19, the anniversary of Poe’s birthday, an unidentified admirer leaves a half-filled bottle of cognac and three red roses at the poet’s grave.

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According to some accounts, the “Poe Toaster” has paid his respects in this way since 1949. Locals who know the Westminster Presbyterian Church in Baltimore told the Associate Press that the tradition has probably been kept up by more than one person, though none of them has ever come forward to claim responsibility.

Edgar Poe was born in Boston in 1809 and led a life marked by poverty, illness and addiction. As a young man, he attended the University of Virginia where he joined the Jefferson Literary and Debating Society and distinguished himself in French and Latin. But his gambling debts grew so fast he was forced to leave before his first year was up.

He joined the United States Army but left after two years. His subsequent career at West Point was curtailed when he was expelled for bad behavior.

A number of magazine jobs followed, and he continued to work on his stories and poems.

In New York he wrote his most famous short story, "The Fall of the House of Usher,” in 1839. He published “The Raven” in 1845, which undoubtedly became his most famous poem. This verse tale of a man haunted by his dead lover is still known and loved by readers around the globe.

No doubt its lines are on the lips of the Poe Toaster every Jan. 19: “Once upon a midnight weary, while I pondered weak and weary/ Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten law …”

Headline Link: ‘Mystery Man’s Annual Visit to Poe Grave’

Biography: Edgar Allan Poe (1809–1849)

Related Topics: Poe fan club, Works by Poe and the author celebrated

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